Tuesday, April 23, 2013

"Cream or Sugar?" - A Still Life from the Paint and Draw Together Challenge for April 2013

"Cream or Sugar?"     8" x 10"     Acrylic on Archival Canvas Board
Buy Here from my Daily Paintworks Gallery

Here's my first finished painting for the site called "Paint And Draw Together" where artists of all degrees of talent get together and paint, giving each other critiques on their work and ideas for improvement. The theory of the site is that by gathering up like-minded souls one can enrich their own lives as well as others through helpful criticism and compliments for a job well done. Up til now, I've been afraid to play my hand at this, worried about what others would say about my work and also worried that it would be a waste of time, as I have tried so hard to work only from my own photographs and my own references. But the truth is, the greatest artists we have ever seen applied themselves to learning from the masters before them. So I want to be timid no more. I don't want to bite into that lie that it would be a waste of my time to spend some careful hours recreating others' photos or paintings, because the honest truth of it is, so long as I'm painting, any and all practice is a step in the right direction, and I have so, so much to learn!

This month's challenge particularly stood out to me, for I have never deemed myself very good at still life's nor at dramatic lighting, and this held both. So I dove in and am thrilled with the results. Tyler was so sweet too - while I was painting, he stood back and exclaimed, "Wow, Missy. I didn't realize you could paint like that!" That's just about the best compliment a girl could ever get from her man! I was brimming from ear to ear, and I still am at the thought of those sweet words. =)   So my hope for the future is this:  to take this world by storm, that some day, people would know my name and my art and that it would bring warmth into their homes! And so until then, I shall practice, practice, practice until I am blue in the face, with paint smudges of course! =D

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Work In Progress - Paint and Draw Together's "Coffee Time"

Work in Progress:  "Coffee Time"

This painting is nowhere near finished, but I just wanted to post my progress anyways. It's based off of a photograph by Lela Stankovic, who host's an amazing site for aspiring artists called "Paint and Draw Together." On the site you get together with other artists and all create off of the same photograph and then critique each other's work with positive feedback and ideas for areas of growth. I have been following this site for a long time and always secretly dying to join along, but I never quite got up the courage to do so, and at the time I so rarely found time to paint that I didn't want to spend my precious minutes on copying someone else's photos. But now as I'm finding more and more time to paint, I finally feel motivated enough to give this a shot, and I especially loved this months picture as it has such dramatic lighting and looks like it's a classical baroque piece. It's stunning. I hope in the end I give her photo some justice, and am already having a blast working on it.

Friday, April 19, 2013

"Stylized Portrait of Adabelle" - A Stylized Portrait Painting

"Stylized Portrait of Adabelle"     8" x 10"     Mixed Media on Bristol Board

YAY!!! You have no idea how much I worked and reworked and then reworked again on this particular piece! I had so many difficulties with it, mostly with the scaling/drawing stage as well as with the pastels, since I very rarely use them and honestly am still in the beginning learning stages for that medium, which meant I had to draw and paint this numerous times to get it how I wanted it, and I still wonder a little if I could do more. Sometimes I think I have something just right all along, only to look at the finished work with great disappointment over the fact that it looks nothing like how I intended. I struggled getting the proportions of this piece to match it's companion piece, but in the end, it was worth the extra effort. You might remember how one of my attempts ended up being a caricature rather than a loosely based portrait with a vintage fashion flare... If not, you can click here to see it.

But yeah, this piece was definitely a learning process piece for me. One that I just had to put my full strength into just to keep from giving up, and I'm all the stronger for it! I had the choice to leave it be, and just let my first attempt be my final, or to keep trying and trying until I succeeded. I chose the latter, and hope that you agree that the choice paid off. =)

Here it is side by side with it's companion, as they appear cropped within their frames:

I've been thinking a lot lately of the fact that we all face difficulties in our lives that are there to shape us and stretch us beyond our means. You know, the ones that stretch you and shake you, and all you want to do is run and hide and throw in the towel, gasping a feeble "I'm done," as you fall to your knees in tears. I know you know what I mean. I feel like our family has faced far too many of these in the last few years, especially since deciding to have babies. Apparently my body just isn't very fond of harboring other individuals inside it... Anyways, one of my flaws, probably one God is trying to break inside me, is the desire to quit. To say "I just can't do this anymore. I'm sooo beyond done Lord!" I don't know how many times I said that while pregnant with Owen. But God is faithful and He has always gotten me through, and I'm always stronger for it in the end. More trusting in God, more awed by His power and grace, more captivated by His love, and more persevering than ever.

As you know this last winter was dark for us. Too dark. Terribly and frighteningly darker than dark. I am still terrified by the memories of how bad things got. Words I wish were never said. Pains I wish we had never felt. The love of my boys lost because I had nothing to give them. I couldn't play or laugh or love on them. Everything hurt. And every part of my life was damaged by that hurt. Even now we're still struggling to pick up the pieces of what was broken in that wildly forsaken winter. I'm finally starting to earn back the love of my little guys, and they are just now starting to open up and let me love on them again. They were injured by my injuries, and there was nothing any of us could do to make it any better. To say we were just surviving by the skin of our teeth is a vast understatement of the truth. I wish you all could  have seen how bad it got. How dark and desperate and just plain scary it was for me and my family.

But, we didn't lose all hope. We held on to the threads at the hem of Jesus' robe, hoping with all desperation that God would get us through. And knowing with a strange sense of certainty that because God is faithful, so perfectly and abundantly faithful, that no matter what we faced, He was there for us and it was His will for us to face what He put on our plates, and we would never have to face it alone because He was always there, carrying us with the gentle hands of a shepherd, leading His lambs to safety away from the storm. God is ALWAYS faithful. "He is the Rock, His works are perfect, and all His ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is He." (Deut. 32:4)

So after this storm, we are here, picking up the pieces, and trying to put back together all that was lost and broken in the last few months. It hasn't been easy, in fact, it's been downright stinkin' hard, but the fact we've had to face is this: God gave us this challenge because He knew that when we were tested to our max, pushed ridiculously beyond our means of coping, honestly, probably beyond anyone's means of coping, that even then we would still remain faithful to Him. He knew we could handle it and become even stronger for it, even if we suffered greatly; He knew we wouldn't turn our back on Him or forsake Him. And you know why? It's definitely not to our credit. It's to His. Because HE is faithful and right and true, and He loves us and carries us through everything, so long as we let Him.

I've always wished I could just touch the hem of Jesus' robe and be healed. I've prayed and cried out and pleaded for that kind of healing. And some day I will be healed and restored to a kind of health I've never felt before. Some day God will bring me to Him and I will see Him face to face and fall down in overwhelming awe of Him, and be allowed to touch His robe. But until that day, I will remain faithful to Him. Because He is faithful. He is ALWAYS FAITHFUL. Don't ever forget that. I sure know I won't.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Siesta" - An Animal Painting of Mallard Ducks

"Siesta"     2.5" x 3.5"     Acrylic on Paper (ACEO)
 Not For Sale

Today's painting is actually one of the prizes for February's contest, where the winner could pick or commission any ACEO by me. One of my winners, Rene, chose to commission a work, and to make it even more fun, she sent me some ideas along with photos for me to choose from. I had a blast picking! And as you can see, I chose her beautiful picture of mallards resting on a bank to recreate in my own words... Well, brushstrokes really, I suppose. Haha. Anyways, thank you so much, Rene, for supplying the perfect photo for me - it was a delight getting to paint this one! And I sure hope you like how it turned out! =)

I loved painting the water in particular, as well as the feathers and heads of the mallards. It's crazy how different colors look in our mind than they do in reality. I started this piece too blue, and then realized after much studying of the picture, that the water was in fact was more of a soft greyish, pinkish, brownish blue color than it was a baby blue, if that makes any sense. I struggle so much with seeing the true color of things, though I think I might be starting to develop better sight for them as I keep painting more and more, and I'm eager to see this skill develop more and more over the coming years. =)

Oh, before I forget, I wanted to remind you about this month's contest - where the prize is a print of your favorite painting of mine - and where all you have to do is use the Facebook "Share" button to show me you want to play. That's right. =) So, go ahead and "Share" your favorite work if you want to be entered to win a completely free print of it.  There's been 2 or 3 people that my husband has seen on his wall but not on mine, so you might want to comment on my Facebook wall or on here if you've shared something just in case, since I'm still having difficulty seeing some of the shares for some reason, and I don't want to miss putting your name down for a chance to win.

Have a great day out there my friends! =)

Monday, April 15, 2013

"The Light in the Willow" - A Landscape Painting for March's Virtual Paintout

"The Light In the Willow"     5" x 7"     Acrylic on Museum Quality Claybord
CLICK HERE to BUY NOW from my Daily Paintworks Gallery

Ooops! I forgot to get this painting in on time for the Virtual Paintout last month, when we traveled to the stunningly beautiful place called Vilnuis, Lithuania, so I wasn't able to post it on there which is a bummer. But at least that gave me more time to work out some of the parts that had me stumped, particularly the lighting and depth of field. I have to be honest, I was so stumped on what to do with this work that I was close to throwing in the towel and calling it done, until I realized how much it was telling me it wasn't finished with me yet. That's when I stumbled upon an old Thomas Kinkade calendar as I was working on slowly moving Owen into my studio and my studio into the office, (which it will soon take over I hope) and realized just what I was missing - dappled sunlight! I noticed that in so many of his paintings he seems to include this particular characteristic of dappled light shining through the trees and across the grass and lanes, and it's this type of light that gives off that "Saturday stroll through the park" feeling I've always felt and loved in his works. Yes, I like Thomas Kinkade. So I added some dappled light of my own, and some extra highlights and I am way more happy with it now than I was before. So now I can gently set down the towel with a smile on my face and call it done, which is a very happy thing for me!

Just in case you wanted to know, here's what it looked like before:

Before there was Light in the Willow =0)
Well, now it's time to start on this month's Virtual Paintout which is in Bulgaria, and to both start and finish up some of my commissions. Is it true? Am I actually this blessed to be making some much needed money doing something I absolutely love to do? This is crazy! Crazy wonderful, but still crazy. YAY!!! If you ever want to order a commissioned work from me of your favorite destination or family pet or just about anything, feel free to email me! If you can't tell, I absolutely love commissions!

Okay, good-bye for now my friends. I hope you're having a very enjoyable day today!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

And the Winner for March is...

Lindsey Stillman! Congratulations Lindsey, for winning a free commissioned painting! Go ahead and email me and let me know what you want me to paint for you. It could be an abstract, a portrait of your family or pet, or just about whatever you'd like, even a mouse flying on a dragon if that's what suits you. =D   If you have any photos that you want me to use, go ahead and send some copies of those to me as well, with your specifications on how you want me to use them. And please remember I can't do copyrighted images or nudity. =P

Thank you so much for supporting me in my endeavors here. It means so much to me. I hope and pray that your own family's multiple endeavors work out as well, such as StudioMuv and your new Beeswax Candles, which are adorable! We're rootin' for you guys. I've included the links above if any of you out there would like to check them out. =)

So now on to the next contest, where all you have to do this month is "Share" your favorite painting of mine onto your own Facebook wall from my Facebook page by the end of the month to enter to win a free print of it! This one actually is easy! If you don't see your favorite on my wall, feel free to share it off of here, but let me know you did so you get your name entered to win, and so I know which painting you want to win. Also, if you don't have Facebook, you can email me what your favorite painting is instead (the link is above) with the subject line titled "April Contest." There are two reasons for doing this particular contest for. For one, the rather obvious one, is that it increases my audience and scope. The second reason, though, is to see which paintings are your favorites, so that I can focus more of my efforts on making more paintings like them, which would mean more of what you like on here. =) If you have any questions about this contest, feel free to contact me or write a comment below. Have a fantastic weekend my friends!

Oh yeah, before you go, I wanted to try something out. I'm thinking of trying something new for the next one, and depending how this goes, I'll decide whether or not to go through with it. So, lets try this out just for fun this time (meaning, no prize involved other than your own personal enjoyment and pride). =0) This might be super easy or super hard, I'm not too sure, but I can't help but ask anyways:

Can you guess what this is?

Let me know in the comment section below. Thanks all!

Friday, April 12, 2013

"Adabelle's Caricature for 2013" - A Portrait Painting

"Adabelle's Caricature for 2013"     8" x 10"     Mixed media on Paper
Not For Sale

Okay, so there's a little story behind this one. It is a portrait of an absolutely gorgeous woman, both inside and out, who at one very long time was the nurse of little Levi, who's not so little anymore. This piece was initially supposed to go as a complimentary piece to my "Stylized Self Portrait," but when I had finished it I realized that while it was a pretty caricature, it just wasn't the same style as the other, and therefore needed to be redone. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so at the very least I got practice and she got a free colored caricature! =)

I'm hoping to post the remake soon, so long as I don't have to try over again. Haha, at least I have the drawing set in stone, it's just a matter of the colors working together now. I hope you're all having a good week and that you have an even better weekend!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Lavender Fields" - A Whimsical Painting by Melissa Adams

"Lavendar Fields"     4" x 5"     Acrylic on Archival Canvas Board
BUY NOW from my Daily Paintworks Gallery

I started this painting last month, as an abstract, but it never quite sat right with me, even after I signed it. Now I know why. =)  I had always seen the potential for this amidst the brushstrokes and after asking a dear friend, Kaylee, if I should keep it as it is or make it something more, she said more. And boy am I so glad she did!

I painted freely, not quite knowing where this painting was going to take me, other than knowing that it was a night scene with a mountain and a glowing waterfall, with trees acting like curtains opening up the scene to a magical landscape. I really love how it turned out, as I was surprised by what my brush led me too as much as if I were watching someone else paint. I think perhaps what I loved the most was the act of losing myself within my painting. =)

Here's the original abstract version:

"Lavender Fields Abstract"     4" x 5"     Acrylic on Canvas

You know, I still really like this abstract though, so in the future I may decide to sell prints of it as well, for those who like a more abstract approach to their art.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

"In the Presence of Greatness" - A Landscape Painting by Melissa Adams

"In the Presence of Greatness"     18" x 24"     Acrylic on Canvas

So here's the piece that's had me in hiding the last few days. It was created in order to be sold at auction for the Royal Family Kids Camps, which is a program that helps foster children to understand how incredibly wonderful and special they truly are. If you've been following my blog for awhile now, you might remember last years piece as well, called "Hope on the Horizon," as well as my Starfish Cake and Henna Cake. The painting was only an 8" x 10", and this year I just really wanted to step things up and go bigger - and boy am I glad I did! I have so many friends who help so abundantly to make those kids feel incredibly special, giving up their time, vacations, earnings, and love in order to help make the Camp a success, and it's such an honor to me to be able to help out in any way possible, even in such a small way as this. I just feel so lucky to be able to use these gifts for something that matters beyond myself and I feel so spoiled that I am able to serve in this way since I get so much joy out of painting, especially when it's used for God's work, though I wish I could have done more.

As for the painting itself, my hope for this piece was to depict a dramatic sense of scale, with towering mountains, a raging waterfall, lush clouds and fields of grass where sheep roam free to graze. I wanted it to cross the line between realistic and impressionistic, and to have an air of dreaminess to it. Not sure if I accomplished all that, but I am happy with how it turned out in the end and can't wait to start on my next big piece. After all, considering how small I've been painting this year, this one is huge in comparison! Haha, well, it was a fun change of pace, and I am sure glad for that! I needed something like that for me to help break up the block I was in, and it really did help a ton! So now I guess the debate for me is whether to keep going small for awhile, to pick up the two larger works I have in process, or to start something huge and epic, like I've always wanted to do. Hmmmm... Decisions, decisions... How fun! =D

Oh, and I know this is kinda silly, but here's a little close-up shot of the sheep. They are absolutely tiny on the painting, and were a bit harder to paint than I anticipated, but I still think they're pretty cute... =0)

Detail of the sheep in the meadow from "In the Presence of Greatness"

Have a good one my friends!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Breaking the Block

"Self Portrait"     Photography courtesy of Tyler Adams, Edited by Melissa Adams

I'm not really sure why, but for some reason lately I've really been struggling with my self-image as it pertains to my art, and as it pertains to my role as a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, and of course as a child of God. You've probably noticed the physical proof of this in the form of me being rather absent from my blog of late, for which I am really and truly sorry. I've been healing up quite nicely these last few weeks since we last talked, and this week for the first time in months I was able to watch both boys for a whole day, which is huge for me, albeit pretty sad if you think about it. I feel like I'm waking up from a dream. A wretchedly horrible dream filled with pain and self pity, agony of heart, soul and body, and I am overwhelmed with a feeling of disbelief that these last few months really happened. It's shocking to me how bad things got. How I was so incapable of taking care of myself that my husband had to bathe me. That his dad had to carry me upstairs to put me to bed at night. That my children couldn't touch me without causing me to gasp and cry out in pain. That I was basically on bed-rest for months, and my only escape from the house was to go to the doctors or go to my pain class. It's just so surreal.

But coming out of all this, it's just as strange. I'm having a hard time grasping reality. And having a hard time with my new role as a mother again, though I am head over heals in love with my boys and overjoyed at the prospect of being able to have them home with me once more. I'm taking it slow, so very, very slow, but on Tuesday I was able to take care of them all on my own and it was amazing. Simply and wonderfully amazing!

What's strange to me now is that when I was so terribly sick with my fibro that I felt absolutely no guilt in spending time painting. I knew for a fact that it was for my own health and benefit, since God used it as a form of therapy for me to get through the most trying moments of my life. But now that I'm starting to regain strength and the ability to walk and lift my boys, and hold them without too much pain, I feel so guilty wanting to spend time in painting that I've come to a veritable stand-still with it. I just can't get myself to jump this hurdle and get back on the horse. And what's weird is that we all know how good painting is for me. But even with that knowledge, I feel like if I spend time working on art now, that I'm a failure. It doesn't make sense, but that's how I feel. Granted, most of these last few days I haven't made it past 9pm without collapsing in a heap of exhaustion on the couch or the bed, but even during naps, or free time, I just can't get myself to pick up a brush. It's so frustrating!

But then I got an email from a woman I deeply admire, who's art has always inspired me from the moment I saw it. Her name is Suzanne Berry, and her work is astoundingly beautiful. Click here to visit her blog - I assure you that you won't be disappointed! Well, to my utter shock and sheer delight this woman who I've looked up to for so very long was actually kind enough to write to me and encourage me to look past these feelings that are holding me back and just get to work. I just about peed my pants when I saw her letter in my inbox, and to see a second one had me running to my husband in delight just so I could show him it. =) So today I am determined to break through this block and to run with it. To look deep inside myself and find the lies that my mind is feeding me, and to work past them so I can get back to work myself. I don't understand why I'm having such a hard time with this, other than the obvious fact that I have massive mommy guilt, but I really don't want to give in and let these thoughts control me. After all, the boys are away today at their God-mothers house and I have the time to ease up on myself and get back to my easel without feeling guilt, and yet something is still holding me back. Is it fear of failure? Fear that I'm just not that good? Fear that nobody cares about my art and that I'm just wasting my time? Well, I suppose it's all of those combined, plus some, and yet I know that in the end, even if there is truth to those words, I don't have to let them be my reality or stop me from dreaming big. I can do this. I need to do this. Not only for me, but for my family as well. I am an artist, and to create is a passion God put in me for a purpose. He gave me these talents, and when the end comes and I am standing at His feet, I don't want to stand there empty handed, with Him disappointed at me for not putting to work the gifts He gave me. I want to be able to lay an abundance at His feet, and thank Him for giving me such beautiful gifts so that I could use them as an investment for Him, and so that someday I can present Him with ten-fold the amount He gave unto me.

So my hope for today or perhaps even tomorrow is that I'll be able to post a new creation of mine, even if it only gets partially done, because I really want to break free from the bondage of fear that is holding me back and keeping me from pursuing the dreams and desires that God has sewn into my heart. I am sure you all have dealt with this at some point in time as well, and I would love to hear from you what you did to overcome such vicious thoughts and be victorious over your fears. Perhaps on days like these it's good to be like a child, to look inside ourselves and discover what is holding us back from being the vibrant, beautiful, and worthy creation that God has intended for us to be. Because I don't want to hold myself back - I have enough people trying to do that for me already, that I don't need to add to it. I want to shine for my God, to do good works for Him and be a light for Him. And I want to do that through my art. How about you? Are you holding back on your dreams out of fear? Will you trust in God with me, and look deep into your heart to find His peace that overcomes all fear, so that when you look in the mirror, you can do so with all the joy and wonder and possibilities that a child has within their own precious little souls.

I still struggle with the ability to have the faith of a child. Even though I know that God wants me to paint, that He gave me this gift for a reason, I still sit in fear, paralyzed from doing exactly what God wants me to do. Oh how I pray that some day, I will be just like a little child to God, never fearing, always trusting, and always letting Him lead the way. For He has said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3-4) Oh how I wish to have such complete faith and trust in the Lord that I would be able to grasp His hand and let Him lead me wherever He wants me to go, without a worry or care in the world, and without fear that I just can't do it. After all, if it's God's will for me, then He will carry me if I only let Him. I pray for those of you reading this that you too would have such trust and faith in God that you would reach out your hand in the dark, and let Him direct your path, as I am trying to do the same in my own walk with Him. May you find courage and strength in our Lord today in all that you do, and may God bless you abundantly for that!

And happy painting everyone! =)

"Looking Deep Within"     Child Photography by Melissa Adams
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